How in the world did we ever wind up with so much stuff?

Roger Davis • Aug 12, 2013 at 10:43 PM

Here at the ranch, it’s time for a garage sale — or 12. The realization began to dawn on me when I was going to repair something, but there was nowhere to put it on my workbench. Every square inch was taken up by paint cans, tools, assorted pieces of hardware or just plain junk.

The rest of my half of the garage is no better. I can’t even get the truck inside. In actuality, that’s because the garage isn’t long and wide enough, but even if it were, I’d still be out of luck because there’s just too much stuff crammed in there.

The Queen had a similar epiphany when she was rummaging through the kitchen cabinets in search of a lid to fit a food container. Oh, there were dozens of lids and plenty of containers, but very few of the pieces fit together. Out of frustration, she began tossing our fancy plasticware into the recycling bin and then over the next several days focused her decluttering efforts elsewhere, such as, um, everywhere. No closet or drawer was or is safe.

Don’t get the wrong idea here. We’re not hoarders, and we certainly don’t belong on that TV show about them. We don’t acquire truckloads of items at a time, and we’re not emotionally invested in most of the possessions we do have. We’re perfectly capable of letting most of them go. It’s just that we’ve let things pile up over the years.

When we got married, we had to combine her stuff, my stuff, her girls’ stuff and my boys’ stuff. Naturally over time we acquired even more stuff, and on top of that we have some of her parents’ stuff and my aunt’s stuff. If we were Oreos, we would be way beyond Double Stuff. More like Octuple Stuff.

We’ve reached the point where we own enough books to give the Library of Congress a run for its money and enough surplus linens to stock a hotel — if any of them matched. There are enough clothes to outfit a Central American country and enough kitchen items to keep the Food Network going for a season or two.

In the garage the other day, I found some Windows 98 software and some original Nintendo games which no doubt date back to the early ’80s — items that will see no use whatsoever here, yet they’re taking up space. Many of the things cluttering up the house are of a similar nature. Do we really need to hang on to VHS movies and cassette tapes?

However, the Queen and I are hardly the sole members of the Too Much Stuff Club. In fact, I would venture to guess that most of us are in the same boat. Usually when I drive by strangers’ open garage doors, I wind up feeling better about myself. Lots of folks seem to have even more junk than I do. And it could be worse. At least Jackie and I haven’t acquired so much stuff that we have to rent a storage unit.

But we do have far more possessions than we need, which is why in another couple of weeks, everything must go. Or a lot of things anyway.

Roger Davis is a Kingsport Times-News columnist. E-mail him at rdavis@timesnews.net.

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